It is every mom’s idea to be able to breastfeed perfectly the first time after birth. I am a mom of 5, and I will admit, it was my idea every single time.
I ended up feeling so guilty when I had to resort to pumping due to my son not latching on correctly. What I wish I had was knowledge of getting the perfect latch
I knew there and then that I wasn’t actually armored with all of the tips and tricks of getting the perfect latch, especially with my baby.
My first baby didn’t latch properly, and I was clueless as to what to do next or how to fix it. I also had very little support when it came to finding the right answers.
I don’t want anyone to be in the same position that I was with my first two children, so I’m here to give you to ultimate breastfeeding and latching.
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HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY LATCH?
As a new mom, some moms experience pain with the first latch, other experience a weird tugging sensation. Over time the latch feels like a tug. If the latch continues as a pinch or pain, please seek out professional help.
With new moms who have so much to worry about, saying things is a positive light can help them be optimistic instead of pessimistic in their experiences.
It’s perfectly normal to begin with, but if it persists, then there is something wrong and you need to think about getting the perfect latch.
You need to get your baby latched onto your breast correctly in order for you to breastfeed as they will suck and get breast milk flowing.
It can be a bit tricky to begin with and quite a few moms will begin to feel deflated after multiple trials and errors to get a good latch.
I was able to successfully get the perfect latch after my second baby and I breastfed them until they were 20 months old.
THE ULTIMATE LATCHING TIPS
1. TAKE A BREASTFEEDING CLASS
After my second baby, I was determined to make breastfeeding work straight away. So, in order to ensure this would happen, I took a couple of breastfeeding classes which were taught by certified lactation consultants.
There are some breastfeeding classes that you can take in the comfort of your own home, and they’re perfect if you don’t feel comfortable getting your boob out in a class full of other, however some instructors do not expect mom’s to expose their breasts in class. And have dummy breasts to explain the nuances of breastfeeding.
If you prefer to learn in the ease of your home then read my honest review of Milkology an online breastfeeding class here.
2. START BREASTFEEDING SOON AFTER BIRTH
This will give you and baby a chance to get into the groove of breastfeeding. It is highly encouraged and will help you on your breastfeeding journey.
No matter how you give birth, whether it be vaginal or c-section, having skin to skin contact with your baby will really help because it is proven to initiate breastfeeding due to your baby being able to smell the colostrum (pre-breast ).
The World Health Organization agrees that breastfeeding within the first hour after birth can initiate breastfeeding and have breastfeeding success from the beginning. Ask your provider if this is possible prior to the birth day.
Related: Do I have low milk supply?
3. PROPER POSITIONING FOR BREASTFEEDING
You should always get comfortable when you’re breastfeeding, no matter where you are.
If you’re uncomfortable, then your body will tense which will make it more difficult to breastfeed, so always make sure to try and be calm and comfortable sitting down when you’re preparing to breastfeed your baby.
After birth, the baby may be placed on your chest and begin breastfeeding in a lay back position. This is a comfortable position on a couch or bed, if sitting up doesn’t feel good after a vaginal birth.
Many moms tend to bring themselves closer to their baby when breastfeeding, but it should be a case of bringing your baby to the breast instead. You will be putting yourself in an uncomfortable position by leaning over to bring the breast to baby.
4. Different holds for breastfeeding
There is more than one way to hold your baby while breastfeeding.
This is one of the things I didn’t know about, and I constantly held my babies in a cradle hold, which is the most common. Once I figured out all of the other holds, I was shocked.
Laid back – simply lean back on your couch or bed, with pillows supporting you in the semi-reclined position. Your baby’s head be near your breast when you put your baby’s tummy onto your body.
Cross-cradle hold – hold your baby’s head in the hand opposite to the breast you’ll be nursing. This is an excellent position for the first few days, as you acclimate to breastfeeding.
If you hold baby behind the neck and shoulders while you hold your breast with your opposite hands, you will have your breast in a shelving position like a U or C hold, while helping baby come to the breast with a wide open mouth.
Side-lying – place your baby on their side as you also lie on your side, tummy to tummy.
Cradle hold – hold your baby’s head in the bend of your elbow on the side that you’ll be breastfeeding from and the hand should be supporting the rest of the body.
Football hold – if you’ve had a c-section birth, this will be great for you. Hold your baby to your side like a football to your, while holding your breast to stabilize the breast for baby to achieve the best wide open mouth gape latch.
5. Encourage your baby to open their mouth
Your baby should open their mouth wide to ensure they get more than just your nipple to suck on. It could cause some intense pain, but it is important.
Either rub against their mouth with your hands or with your nipple and once you get a good latch around your areola, they’ll get enough milk from your breast.
6. Breastfeeding essentials
Your baby will want to breastfeed frequently in the first few weeks, so it’s important to have all of the breastfeeding essentials to hand.
This could include a bottle of water, breast pads, nipple cream, burp rags or a boppy pillow.
7. Watch for hunger cues
When your baby is ready to breastfeed, they’ll likely begin to show some hunger cues or signs. Some commons ones are
• Rooting reflex (looking for a nipple when touched on the cheek)
• Licking their lips
• Sucking on their fingers a lot
It’s important to keep an eye out for these hunger cues because you don’t want your baby getting too upset and cry. If your baby is already crying, achieving a good latch can be more difficult.
8. Know signs of a good latch
I had no idea what a good latch was even supposed to feel like when I was breastfeeding. I just assumed that they’d go for the nipple, suck on it and that was that.
Honestly, it takes some practice to know how it should feel, but it shouldn’t be painful if it’s a good latch.
If you look and listen to your baby when you’re nursing, you’ll realize that your baby will start off with rapid sucks to stimulate milk flow and as soon as that happens, your baby will suck slowly and deeply.
You will see and hear the pauses when your baby swallows the milk
Here are a few signs of a good breastfeeding latch:
• Your baby ends the feeding satisfied
• Circular movement in the jaw
• When your baby comes off the breast, your nipple is not flattened
• You can hear swallowing
• Chin and cheeks may touch the breast, There will be suck, suck, pause, as they suck, suck, swallow, pause.
• Your baby’s mouth opens wide around the breast, not just the nipple.
• Baby is gaining weight
• Your nipples are not uncomfortable.
Related: The Easiest Way to Induce Lactation
9. Look for signs of trouble
There could be huge red flags that something isn’t right with your latch while you’re breastfeeding. The most common ones are
• Baby smacking when latched (this means your baby is becoming unlatched)
• Painful nursing
• Back pain
• Cracked or bleeding nipples
Fussy baby, however some children naturally are fussy, even if fed enough.
You can seek help from a lactation consultant as soon as possible if you notice the signs of a poor latch. A link to ILCA or other lactation consultant org would be helpful here.
10. Get comfortable
If you’re comfortable, you’re more than likely going to have a good latch.
Use a pillow to support the baby as you sit back comfortably so your arms aren’t doing much of the work. A boppy pillow is also especially helpful when your baby starts to gain more weight.
A nursing pillow would be ideal, but there is nothing wrong with using an ordinary pillow.
11. The perfect step-by-step to a good latch
As soon as you’ve become comfortable and have your breastfeeding essentials to hand, you’re ready to go.
Pull your baby in close to you, tummy to tummy, if you’re using the cradle hold. Your baby should be close enough to easily reach your nipple. Think alignment: Is the baby’s head straight with ears, shoulders and hips in a straight line?
Your baby might be getting ready to feed by widely opening their mouth. If they don’t, just brush your nipple over your baby’s lips.
You can help your baby’s latch by tilting their head back, but they will begin by putting their chin and then lower jaw on your breast first.
Help baby finish latching by tilting their head to get their upper jaw onto your breast.
To get the perfect latch, you need to get as much breast in your baby’s mouth as possible The nipple should be aimed to the roof of the baby’s mouth. This elicits the suck reflex when they initially latch.
It might be helpful to you if you hold or squeeze your breast to help your baby to latch on. You can squeeze a bit of milk onto the nipple end to entice baby to open big and wide. Babies have a keen sense of smell, and this will encourage a wide open gaped mouth, for adequate latch.
12. Don’t go it alone
Breastfeeding is tough enough as it is, let alone if you’re doing it on your own.
If you do find yourself struggling or having any concerns about your baby’s weight, then please seek professional help. Here are some links to help you find professional advice no matter where you are:
International: La Leche League International
13. A healthy and balanced diet
I know you probably hear this all of the time, especially through pregnancy. But this is just as important during breastfeeding.
Even though the crisps and biscuits are usually the first thing to hand, try and think of it in a different way. What you’re eating, your baby is eating, and you want your baby to be healthy too, right?
If you’re eating a pack of biscuits, would you allow your baby to eat those biscuits in one go? Probably not.
14. Drink plenty of water
You need water to make milk, so if you’re dehydrated, your baby won’t be getting what they need. Get yourself a bottle that states how much you’ve drunk (they are so motivational!) like THIS ONE and keep it on you at all times.
I made sure that literally everywhere I went, I’d have it with me, and I even bought a spare one just in case.
15. Baby’s lips should be flanged outwards
You will always know if your baby is latched on properly by looking at their lips. Your baby’s lips should be flanged outwards when breastfeeding so you should be able to see their bottom and top lip.
While breastfeeding, your baby’s lips shouldn’t be curled inwards, if they are, you won’t be able to see their lips at all.
Related: 10 Breastfeeding Hacks for new moms
Remember to seek help
There is so much to learn as a new mom. Visiting a professional lactation consultant at the time of birth and at day 3 or 4 will help you and your baby learn breastfeeding correctly from the start.
If you notice that your baby isn’t producing enough wet diapers, aren’t gaining enough weight, experience pain while breastfeeding or your baby seems unsatisfied after feeding, then seek some advice, from a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist. They will help you with any worries you might have while breastfeeding.